It was the penultimate matchup in the 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket to be finalized, and it might be effectively over shortly after tipoff, but No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 16 Texas-San Antonio will take place at 4:40 p.m. on Friday in Cleveland, and, as we can see on the 2011 NCAA Tournament schedule, will be announced by Gus Johnson. That counts for something, right?
This Ohio State squad has a few similarities to the 2006-07 team that rode Greg Oden's freshman class to the NCAA Tournament final against Florida. Jared Sullinger is the Oden surrogate in the paint, and though he's more like Kevin Love than Oden, he's unquestionably the team's anchor. Mike Conley gets updated in the form of freshman point guard Aaron Craft. And, well, I guess "few" should be "couple of," because this team's supporting cast (David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford) is significantly more consistent than that outfit's, and could well propel the Buckeyes to a win in the final this go-round. The Buckeyes are stout on defense and exceedingly efficient on offense, with Sullinger's execution in the block and allowing Diebler (who is shooting 50% from three on 204 shots this year), Buford, and Lighty to take and make open jumpers.
Texas-San Antonio will prove to be no match for those mighty Buckeyes. The Roadrunners do have a strong trio of scorers in Devin Gibson, Jeromie Hill, and Melvin Johnson, but none is on even Buford's level, and none can throw it down low to a faux Sullinger. UTSA does nothing particularly well and poses very little threat to Ohio State.
Star Watch: Diebler's shooting is worth breaking out: he leads the nation in true shooting percentage and offensive rating — though his 141.0 mark in that category is inflated by his almost exclusive use as a three-point sniper — and is second in effective field goal percentage.
Prediction: Ohio State builds a massive early advantage against a tired Texas-San Antonio team playing its fifth game in nine days. It's only the second state, fortunately — UTSA puddle-jumped from Dayton to Cleveland for this game — and that helps enable the Roadrunners to keep it within 30, 83-57.
Need help picking your bracket? Check out SB Nation's full 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket predictions, picking every game of March Madness, or our region by region breakdowns for the East Region, West Region, Southeast Region, and Southwest Region.
Did your team miss the 2011 NCAA Tournament? We have you covered: check out the 2011 NIT bracket.